MegaCARE continues to support survivors and our partners affected by the Haiti earthquake from January 12th, 2010. Recently MegaCARE sent a team to follow-up and support our partners based in the Dominican Republic who were instrumental in providing first responders, emergency medical care and provide continued care to victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Our team delivered and procured additional medical equipment, supplies and resources while working with children, family members and staff members who are serving these survivors each and every day to help them put their lives back together.
The 2010 earthquake claimed over 316,000 lives with countless others injured. Today there are thousands of children who were not able to seek medical attention and now living with unset bones, wounds that have not fully healed and carry the scars of that tragic day. This is the story of a young girl named Kebbi who we meet while in country:
On January 16th, four days after the tragic earthquake of 2010, teams of rescue workers were digging through tons of debris throughout Port-au-Prince, Haiti. A young rescue worker was tired; his muscles ached but he was committed to finding survivors as he pressed on throughout the night. The young man continued removing debris when he saw some movement in the rubble. He peered through the darkness with his flashlight at what appeared to be a person. He continued removing bricks, rebar and pieces of tin until he could finally discern a young lady was pinned underneath the debris. His heart started pounding as he yelled, “We’ve found one!” to his fellow workers. “Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle we are coming!” he said to the lady lying before him. Other members of the rescue team now rallied to his call as they started removing debris from her body. The young rescue worker knelt by her side and took her hand, “We’re here to help” but there was no response. “Mademoiselle…Mademoiselle…I’m here. We’re going to get you out just hang in there for me” still no response. Seconds seemed like an eternity as he held and squeezed her cold, bruised and limp hand. He desperately felt for a pulse or some sign that she knew he was there as the other workers continued to remove debris. With each anxious moment it became more and more evident, she was not going to respond.
Thoughts ran through the young rescue workers head, “Maybe I’m just tired. Maybe I wanted to see movement. I thought surely I saw something.” His heart ached as he gently placed her fragile hand back down to the ground just as the other workers removed the last pieces of debris from her body. They all paused at that moment. Each one looking at the other; there were no words to describe the emotions they felt. They could see it in each other’s eyes. They all simply bowed their heads in silence as they knew the earthquake had claimed yet another victim.
The silence was broken with a muffled groan as there was movement from underneath the rubble. The young man opened his eyes to see a small hand covered in dust protruding from underneath the body. One worker said, “Did you hear that?” as another said “…look there; to her right side!” The team lifted the woman’s lifeless body to find a young girl underneath. The child’s head was injured. Her lips were stammering as she gasped for air, but she was alive! They quickly pulled her from the debris with cheers and applauses. “We found a survivor! We found a little girl!” exclaimed the young rescue worker as he carried her out of the rubble.
We later learned this young girl’s name is Kebbi and that her mother pulled her near and laid on top of her as the earth shook and ceiling began to fall on that dreadful day. Kebbi’s mother’s final thoughts were of protection as she threw her body on top of her baby girl in what would be a mother’s last expression of love.
Now four days later, a mother’s un-selfish sacrifice provided enough shelter to protect her child’s life. Kebbie was rushed to a nearby field hospital where MegaCARE partners along with other medical teams were providing triage to hundreds of patients in a make-shift field hospital. This was the same field hospital who received one of two anesthesia machines, medical supplies and a water purification system from MegaCARE to continue their medical efforts. Tremors continued to rattle the city making it unsafe to go inside the battered facility thus tents and canopies provided the only shelter for doctors and patients. Quickly the medical teams stabilized Kebbi’s injuries and placed her arm in a sling. Kebbi had suffered what they deemed was a broken arm, cracked skull, several lacerations and a nearly severed ear, but she was going to survive.
In the coming days, she was reunited with her father who fought back tears of pain for the loss of his wife while being overcome with joy for finding his only daughter. Kebbi remained in the field hospital for a couple of weeks before receiving a referral to our partner’s children’s hospital in the Dominican Republic. Shortly thereafter, Kebbi and her father went to live with relatives in the Dominican Republic so she could receive the proper medical attention she needed.
She was admitted into the children’s hospital where she initially clung to her father and refused to allow the physician or nurses to examine her. Still traumatized she did not want to leave her father’s sight, but though time, patience and love the surgeons, nurses and counselors were able to make tremendous progress with her to begin her healing process.
Now a year later, Kebbi has undergone several surgeries to repair tendons in her elbow and hand with continued care for her forehead and ear. MegaCARE’s team recently worked with the hospital staff, counselors, and patients while distributing aid, coloring books and encouragement to the children of the hospital. We had the privilege to meet little Kebbi and interview the surgeon who performed her operations to learn more about this beautiful young child who’s walked such a tragic and painful path. The surgeon stated, “Kebbi is one of the lucky ones in that she still has use of all four of her extremities”. He also shared that she is expected to make a full recovery with continued rehabilitation, and her future is promising although her journey is long from over. She will carry both physical and emotional scars from that tragic day for the rest of her life.
It’s a blessing to see how support through donations, service, sacrifice and partnerships can make a difference in a young child’s life. MegaCARE thanks all who were involved and played a vital role in Kebbi’s story. From the rescue workers, triage doctors, nurses, surgeons, counselors and MegaCARE supporters who helped fulfill Kebbi’s mother’s last expression of love, your compassion and support have enabled Kebbi to live and one day have a family of her own.
Partnering to empower communities worldwide is more than a slogan; it a concerted effort to help hurting people. Thousands of children did not survive the 2010 earthquake and there are still thousands of children in need today. Your continued support of MegaCARE enables us to help hurting people through humanitarian aid, medical initiatives, education, empowerment and continued relationships with our partners to empower and changes lives around the world.
Thank you for caring and making a difference in the lives of children like Kebbi.